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NHL rumors: Islanders win Belmont arena bid

Sources have told Newsday that the Islanders are moving back to Nassau County.
The Islanders have won the bid to build a new arena at Belmont Park. (Photo: Getty Images)

The New York Islanders' bid to build a new arena near Belmont Race Track in Elmont, NY has been selected by Empire State Development (ESD), sources have told Newsday's Jim Baumbach on Tuesday. 

An official announcement is expected to come at 11 a.m. on Wednesday at the site with New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo on hand. 

Working alongside Sterling Project Development and Oak View Group, the Islanders' new arena is expected to hold 18,000 patrons, though that number could be around the 16,500 for NHL games. 

There is also a 200-to-250-room hotel, 435,000-square feet of retail space and a 10,000-square foot "innovation" center, per Baumbach.

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In earlier reports, it was discovered that the Islanders are looking to break ground on the new site sometime during the spring of 2018.

It is just the first step for the Islanders, who still need to get out of their current 25-year lease with the Barclays Center. After 43 years at the Nassau Coliseum in Hempstead, NY, the team was forced to pack up and head to Brooklyn where it was quickly apparent that the two parties did not provide a good match. 

The Barclays Center is a venue built for basketball and 28 miles away from the Coliseum, where a majority of the fanbase is located. Obstructed-view seats and a tedious commute to the arena drove attendance numbers down and each side looking for a way out. 

They have until Jan. 1 before negotiations are stopped and must officially opt out before Jan. 30. However, they will play at Barclays through the 2018-19 season before leaving. Depending on the progress of the new arena, the Islanders might need a temporary home for the 2019-20 season.

Belmont Race Track is just seven miles down Hempstead Tpke. from the team's original home, though most fans will likely have to take a train to the game considering there might only be 2,000 spaces for parking. 

Regardless, the move back East to a hockey-first arena dedicated to the franchise is an enormous win for the Islanders and their fans, who have been relegated to nomadic-like statuses over the past few seasons.

It was a bullish effort from Islanders co-owner Jon Ledecky, who made his intentions clear after submitting a bid to ESD on Sept. 28 that it was Belmont or bust. He was quoted earlier in December saying that Belmont is the only option the team had for a new arena. 

And he got it done. That will score him plenty of brownie points among the fan base. 

New York City FC of MLS was the opposing bidder of the Belmont site as they were looking for a 26,000-seat, open-air stadium with two soccer facilities and a public park.